Grace and Necessity Part 4: God and the Artist

Grace and Necessity Part 4: God and the Artist

I was really drawn to William’s statement about how “God’s life exercises its own perfection in the imagining of a world into life, so that the exercise of the artist’s imagination fills out what must be the heart of holy life for human creatures” (Williams 167). This comment illustrates how human art, inspiration and imagination are all tools used to pursue holiness. This process of producing artwork that “is more than functional, [and] more than problem solving” points to a deeper emotional and spiritual need to be made holy and complete (Williams 160). Another compelling statement is that “the artist imagines a world that is both new and secretly inscribed in all that is already seen” (Williams 167). This comment emphasizes how human creativity uses what God has already given us by reflecting that through art and expressing it in different ways. Basically, we cannot imitate or reinvent the world or recreate the matter of the world, but we can present it in different ways and understand different aspects of the world through art.

Art should make known ideas or knowledge that is not readily seen or realized. Art opens up the doorway to the excess information in the world that is not always visible to us or tangible. Art expresses a deeper need and a desire to be whole and complete or holy because despite our greatest intentions for a work, “The artist discovers her own unfinishedness in the work. There is no complete self-exhaustion of the artist in what is made” (Williams 162). Furthermore, Williams expresses how “human making seeks to echo, necessarily imperfectly, the character of God’s love as shown in making and becoming incarnate” (Williams, 165). The very process of art making strives towards a perfection and holiness. Our abilities, though imperfect in comparison with God’s creativity, express God’s love of creating.

Because we have been created in the image of God we share a connection to the joy and love that comes from creating. In the beginning God made the world and saw that it was good; in a much smaller scale I find joy and find a similar love of making things. There is a great satisfaction in creating meaning and order out of line, shape and color and texture. Throughout my artistic process the art comes to life and can take on shape, form, meaning and narrative. This process of creating meaning that is greater than the face value of the artwork speaks of the excess in art. This excess relates to our desire for a holiness that can only be found in God. The fact that we continue to create, continue to design and invent in a million different ways shows the overwhelming scope and diversity of God’s creativity. It is beyond bounds and limitless and although we can reflect it we will never be able to exhaust it or imitate it.

While looking up faith and art I came across an interesting article about what it means to thrive as a Christian artist. I feel like this relates to the idea of how art is a searching for the holy and purity found in God alone. This article speaks about how we as Christian artists can thrive. It is not a matter about trying to do more work or adding more to your already full schedule. It is about abiding in God and learning how to trust him on your artistic journey. Here is the article and a painting of sunflowers that illustrated thriving.


Sunflowers by Jon Detweiler

Here is another article I found that reminded me of the article about how to discourage Christian artists in the Church. It is titled simply “If Faith Welcomes Art”

I particularly liked these two quotes it gave:

“Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth.”

-Madeleine L’ Engle:

quote-J. A. C. Redford

Here is a sketch I did of a crashing ocean wave.


The ocean can be expressed through art in many different ways: you can have a stormy sea or a calm sea, a big wave, or a little wave, shallow water, or deep ocean and sea life, shells, sand, tide pools, etc. Because creation is so diverse art can be limitless and the making of art and how it can never be exhausted or finalized points to the holiness of God.


Williams, Rowan. Grace and Necessity Reflection on Art and Love. Morehouse: 2005. Print.


3 thoughts on “Grace and Necessity Part 4: God and the Artist

  1. Wow! Good stuff. I like what you said about art “opening a doorway to see that which is not visible”. In Hebrews faith is described as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen”. I really love this idea about art, that you can literally paint God’s kingdom! I also really like that you included a drawing of a wave, it reminds me of being at the beach and feeling waves totally crash around you.

    Keep on keepin on!

  2. Really thoughtful comments here Heidi. I like the idea that we can understand things in different ways by all the different kind of art we make. That really makes sense to me. We can see different perspectives through other peoples eyes and hands. I like the idea of as artist “abiding and thriving” in God. Very nice. Really wonderful additional articles you found and very thoughtful quotes. You give any reader much to contemplate and think about. Excellent.

  3. I like how you do you explain the concept of the chapter with your own words and experience, it is helpful for me to understand the book. Good thoughts! In addition, I really like your sketch of the ocean waves, and I can totally see what it will look like if you make a print out of it.

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